Harry S. Truman photo

Remarks in Response to the Presentation by Princess Elizabeth of an Overmantel for the White House.

November 02, 1951

Your Royal Highness, Princess Elizabeth; Your Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh:

It has been a very great pleasure to have you as our guests.

I am sure I speak for all the people of the United States, and especially for the people of Washington. We have many distinguished visitors here in this city, but never before have we had such a wonderful young couple that so completely captured the hearts of all of us. You will leave many happy memories among the people who have greeted you here.

It is very thoughtful and generous of the King, your father, to send this gift. It is magnificent. I am especially glad that he sent us something for this building, which means so much to the people of the United States.

This overmantel will be placed in the White House, and it will be greatly cherished as a mark of the close ties that bind our two countries together. This country is built upon principles which we have inherited from the British people--our love of liberty, our system of justice which is based upon the English common law, our language-these and many other things give us a strong feeling of kinship.

Over the years, we have built these ties into a remarkable international friendship. We have had our differences in the past, but today it would be just as hard to imagine a war between our two countries as it would to imagine another war between the States of this country. It just couldn't happen.

I hope the day will soon come when the same thing will be true among all the nations of the world, when war will be impossible in the world. That depends in great measure upon how well our two countries stick together and work for world peace. I am sure that we will do a better job for world peace because your visit here has tightened the bonds between us.

We want you to come back again. It has been reported to me that you would like to come back again and bring your lovely children.

When you do that, we hope that the restoration of the White House will be finished and you can see this gift installed in its place in the Blue Room. I don't know who the temporary occupants of the White House may be at that time. But you can be sure of this: No matter who they are, you and your family will always be welcome.

As you return to your home, I ask you to take our warmest greetings to the King and Queen. And I would like you to express to the King our gratitude for this beautiful gift and for the sentiment which inspired it.

Note: The President spoke at 12:30 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

The remarks of Princess Elizabeth in making the presentation follow:
Mr. President:

"We have spent 2 very happy days as your guests. Before we leave, I am, therefore, very glad to present to you a gift from my father, the King. I feel that this ceremony makes a fitting climax to what has been a delightful and memorable occasion for both of us.

"The renovation of the White House has attracted interest all over the world. Everyone knows how closely it has been bound up with the history of your country and how important it is to your people as a symbol of national pride.

"If it had been impossible to preserve this beautiful building many people in Britain would have shared your disappointment. As it is we are glad to join with you in celebrating its restoration; and my father, who has many happy memories of his own stay in the house, has wished to mark the event with a personal gift.

"It gave the King great pleasure when he found the overmantel which is before you now. The work of 18th century artists, and embodying the finest British craftsmanship, it seems perfectly suited for the place which it will occupy.

"It gives me great pleasure on behalf of my father, to present this overmantel to you. It is his hope, and mine, that it will be a welcome ornament to one of your proudest national possessions and that it will remain here, as a mark of our friendship, so long as the White House shall stand."

The overmantel consisted of a rare pair of English candelabra and a three-part mirror with an oil painting of flowers set above it in a carved gilt frame.

Harry S. Truman, Remarks in Response to the Presentation by Princess Elizabeth of an Overmantel for the White House. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231250

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